The project “Through the Eyes of a Child: The Holocaust in Polish Children’s and Young Adult Literature after 1989” (2016–2020) is conducted at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw as part of the “Diamentowy Grant” Program run by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
The Holocaust in Children’s and YA Literature
The project is devoted to the description and interpretation of Polish literature (including its international context) directed at non-adult readers, created in the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century, pertaining to the subject of the Holocaust. The tragedy of the Holocaust shook European culture. It is remembered as the height of the crisis of humanity and a warning for the future. The problem of the Shoah is discussed in various cultural texts which attempt to give an account of the cataclysm and preserve its remembrance. Therefore, the subject is not foreign to children’s and youth literature, whose task is to shape new generations and build the foundations for their identity, their value system, and cultural awareness. An increasing number of books which raise questions relevant to this research project appears on the market each year. The titles include Pamiętnik Blumki [Blumka’s Diary] by Iwona Chmielewska (2011), Arka czasu [The Ark of Time] by Marcin Szczygielski (2013) or Listy w butelce: Opowieść o Irenie Sendlerowej [Lists in a Bottle: A Story about Irena Sendler] by Anna Czerwińska-Rydel (2018). In addition, some works of foreign authors have been translated into Polish. The ones mentioned in this project include John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (published in Poland as Chłopiec w pasiastej piżamie in 2007) and Uri Orlev’s Run, Boy, Run (published in Poland as Biegnij, chłopcze, biegnij in 2013)
Catalog of Holocaust Literature
Due to the increasing number of publications on the subject of the Holocaust targeted at the non-adult reader, the main aim of the project is to become familiarized with existing material and begin its classification. The project’s accompanying Internet platform contains both a catalog of children’s literature and a bibliography of theoretical texts. It is designed to help schoolteachers and academic teachers select materials to work with schoolchildren and university students. The website may also be useful to librarians and other people interested in books for the young reader.
Publication Dedicated to the Holocaust Narratives
The final results of the research will be presented as a scientific publication intended to consolidate and process the analyzed material, especially with regards to chief narrative strategies used in transmitting information on the Holocaust to the non-adult reader. The publication will respond to the significant deficit in research on how the great tragedy from the past can be discussed today.
Guide for Schoolteachers, Educators, Librarians, etc.
The manager of this project hopes that a detailed analysis of children’s and youth literature on the Holocaust will be of use to teachers and educators, particularly ones who specialize in historical education and the subject of the Shoah. Moreover, the research is conducted with a theoretical goal in mind (vital in the perspective of emerging children’s and youth literature studies), which is to further define the specificity of the narratives disseminated by these texts. It can be made evident precisely due to the fact that the subject matter of the analyzed works seems to be inadequate for children’s and youth books, while remaining an integral part of European culture and experience. Thus, it is crucial to carefully examine the transformations undergone by children’s and youth literature through subjects significant culturally and historically.
The results of this research may bring a new perspective on literature for the young reader and the renditions of the subject of the Holocaust in literature understood more broadly.
Contact: Krzysztof Rybak, km.rybak [at] uw.edu.pl
Translated from the Polish by Aleksandra Paszkowska
Project logotype MODERNA Agencja Reklamowa
This project is financed by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education as part of the “Diamentowy Grant” Program.